11 June 2013

Our Future Certainty

 “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift … for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:7, 12 (NKJV UK)

Hebrews concludes its list of foundational items for the Christian, with “eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:2). Paul ends with a wish that he might have opportunity to expand and expound on this list, and, Oh!, do we wish that he had done so.

As the book of Revelation explains, and is beyond our space here to elaborate, at the end of time there will be a general resurrection of all the dead and then a time of judgment. Traditionally this is understood how mankind judges: there are two sides, one is right and the other wrong and all are to be judged against those two sides, and whichever is stronger (weightier; whichever side the scales of justice come down upon), you make it or you don’t.

That’s how the Egyptians saw their eternal future. At death, if the Pharaoh’s sins were heavier than a feather, he would be hauled off to be devoured by jackals and denied eternal life with his gods.

But that’s not how Christianity works. We have all sinned, even if only once, and that is enough, according to God’s just rule of law, to have condemned ourselves to death for ever.

For a Christian, God’s justice works entirely differently: “For when we were still without strength [better: power], in due time Christ died for the ungodly. … Therefore, as through one man’s offence judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Romans 5:6, 18). When we accept Christ’s sacrifice, our sins which condemn us are all washed away in the blood of Christ. And we continue, resurrected into a life of walking with the Spirit, uncondemned, unafraid of the judgment to come: “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). Our future is secure, because we are seen by God according to his Son’s perfection, rather than our own continuing imperfection. As Christ was righteous ‘enough’ to be resurrected, that righteousness of his has been attributed to us, and we will therefore be resurrected. That’s the hope and belief of a Christian, and a Christian need have no fear of the future resurrection.

As noted before, each of these foundational concepts builds, the next upon the previous, to the point where we can stand tall as Christians, coming boldly to God, seeking to do and be his will, striving to live as Christ lived among us, going on to the perfection that is in Christ. This foundation of ours is in fact rock solid, unshakable and perfect. And we do well from time to time to consider how far a Christian has come just in understanding these foundational truths. Yet Paul tells us this is only just the beginning….

Heavenly Father, we are all babes in Christ. When we think we are more, we in fact deceive ourselves. Our fervent prayer is that we go on to live this life with you, that we may go on to maturity, ending in the perfection that is in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford

johnstettafordAbout the Author:
John Stettaford is an Elder in the Reading Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Reading
Prospect School, 6th Form Common Room
Honey End Lane
RG30 4EL

Meeting time:
Saturday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
John Stettaford
Phone:  01923-241426
Email: pastor@wcg-reading.org.uk

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